QUESTION: I’ve heard that it’s illegal for wineries in Alsace to use Chardonnay. Is this true?
ANSWER: Partially. Although there have been some changes in recent years, France still has very strict laws governing many aspects of winemaking. Chardonnay is grown in Alsace, but not in any great quantity. By French law, it may not be used to make what we think of as “typical” Chardonnay. Rather, vintners may use it only to make Cremant d’Alsace, which is a sparkling wine.
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QUESTION: What grapes are used in making Sherry?
ANSWER: Sherry’s home is the Jerez region of Spain – an area along the sea in the southwestern province of Andalusia. In Jerez, all of the winegrape varieties are white. The most widely planted is Palomino, which is used to make all styles of Sherry, from bone-dry to extremely sweet. Moscatel is used primarily as a blending grape, but also is made into a varietal wine by a handful of vintners. The Pedro Jimenez variety also does double-duty – as a blending grape, and to make the ultra-sweet Sherry of the same name.
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QUESTION: I got a bottle of Beaujolais for Christmas, and was told that it should be chilled before uncorking. This isn’t Beaujolais Nouveau – just “regular” Beaujolais. How long should I chill it?
ANSWER: Beaujolais is that rare red wine that benefits from being served cool (not cold). Generally speaking, very fruity reds such as Beaujolais should be placed in a bucket half-filled with ice and half-filled with cold water for about 15 minutes.